BIG BLUE FANS FOR
2013-14 Season Analytical Writings
On Friday night, the young Kentucky Wildcats took the floor for their first regular season game of the 2013-14 basketball season. In retrospect, these Cats performed for the third time in a mere 8 days, and prospectively, the schedule maker has them lacing up their sneakers again tomorrow (Sunday) and yet again on Tuesday against the consensus #2 team in the nation, Michigan State in Chicago. That is three games in the first 4 days of the 2013-14 basketball season, and 5 games in 12 days including the two exhibition appearances.
Yes, dear fans, the Kentucky schedule maker has devised his own modern day basketball “Trial By Ordeal” to determine whether these young Cats are “Innocent” in their claim to the #1 ranking and pre-season favorite to win everything in 2014, or whether these young Cats are “Guily” as charged by many of being mere pretenders to the thone. Despite a shaking performance from the free throw line for the game, and despite a shaky defensive effort during the first half of the game against UNC Ashville, the jurors seated for this early season “Trial By Ordeal” must be favorably impressed by a 32 point advantage at the end in the first element of this “Trial.”
The second “Trial” element occurs on Sunday afternoon, less than 43 hours since the first element concluded, against the Northern Kentucky Norse who also opened their basketball season Friday night. However, the Norse had to travel home after their game from West Lafayette, Indiana after sustaining a disappointing 1 point loss to the home standing Purdue Boilermakers, 76-77. In this initial outing, the Norse owned a 76-72 lead inside the last minute to have Purdue score 5 straight to take their 1 point lead with 13 seconds to play. The Norse final attempt to secure the win they had all but earned over the course of the first 39 minutes, rimmed out, and the offensive rebound put back failed to fall through the basket. The Norse trip back to Northern Kentucky must have been accompanied by that bitter taste of the one that got away.
However, the Norse also traveled home with the knowledge that they played toe to toe on a Big Ten floor against a top 30 opponent, narrowly missing the upset win they had all but earned. That bittersweet taste should give the Norse an elevated confidence for their Sunday trip to Lexington and a date on the Rupp Arena floor against these Cats.
The Northern Kentucky Norse played their first season ever as a D1 member in 2012-13, finishing with 11-16 and 9-9 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. However, after an 0-6 start, the Norse played the remaining 21 games 11-10. Their most impressive win of last season was a 17-point home win over #119 Merce. However, their 16 losses included a home loss to #318 East Tennessee State by 5. Northern Kentucky ended 2013 rated #256 by Pomeroy. Pomeroy started the 2013-14 season with the Norse at #301, but following their surrendered road win at Purdue, the Norse have risen overnight to #283.
Based primarily on their 2012-13 levels of performance, NKU played at an average pace of about 62 possessions per game, scoring 62.9 ppg (1.014 ppp) and allowing 65.0 ppg (1.056 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0.448. In contrast, the Cats, based largely on the average performance of the Calipari Era, and last night's game average about 76 possessions per game, scoring 86.9 ppg (1.122 ppp) while allowing 68.3 ppg (0.901 ppp) against a schedule strength of 0.627. Based on these comparisons, the NGE method indicates a 30 point Kentucky margin on Sunday, 86-56 at a pace of 69 possessions. Pomeroy projects this game as a 25 point Kentucky win, 80-55.
Coach Calipari started four freshmen, the Harrison twins, Julius Randle, and James Young, with Sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. Sophomore Alex Poythress was first off the bench, following by Freshmen Johnson and Lee.
The Cats control the tip, but fail to score on their first 4 possessions.before Randle breaks the ice with a free throw. The Cats score the first 6 points before NKU gets their first point on a free throw for a 5 point lead, 6-1, at the under 16 media timeout. In the second segment, the Cats added a point to their early lead on the strength of 4-5 shooting including back to back 3 pointers by Andrew Harrison and Alex Poythress. At the under 12 media timeout, the Cats lead 16-10 and have possession after the break.
In the third segment, the Cats scored 13 straight points before NKU finally added to their score at the close of the segment for a 29-13 Kentucky advantage at the under 8 media timeout, and Julius Randle will have two free throws when play resumes. In the fourth segment, after NKU trimmed a single point off the Kentucky lead, Willie Cauley-Stein scored on back to back offensive rebounds to push the lead to 19 points, 34-15, forcing NKU to take a timeout with 6:19 to play in the first half. The Cats finish the segment with a 21 point lead, 38-17, and Willie Cauley-Stein scored on his third offensive rebound of the segment just prior to the under 4 media timeout. In the final segment, the Cat extend their lead to 26 points at the half, 48-22.
UK scored its 48 points in a total of 30 possessions for the half, and Northern Kentucky scored its 22 points on a total of 29 possessions. Kentucky dominated the boards, with a rebounding edge 28-11. On the offensive glass, the Cats built a 12-5 advantage at the half of the game. The Cats used their 12 second chance possessions to only score 16 second chance points while Northern Kentucky used its 5 second chances to score 4 second chance points. Northern Kentucky had an offensive efficiency of 0.621 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 0.800 ppp for its 5-second chance possessions. UK had 1.067 ppp on its 30 first chance possessions and 1.333 ppp on its 12-second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a powerful 66.7% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Northern Kentucky was able to convert 23.8% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this half, making 7-12 [58.3%]. Northern Kentucky was 1-3 [33.3%] for the half. Field goal shooting for UK was 18-33 overall [59.3%] and 5-13 from long range [58.3%]. For Northern Kentucky, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a strong,6-12 [50.0%] and from long range, Northern Kentucky hit 3-17 [17.6%].
Turnovers were in rare supply for the Cats, with 4 total turnovers. Northern Kentucky committed 4 turnovers in this first half. The Cats committed one turnover for every 7.5 possessions. The Cats forced only 5 Northern Kentucky turnovers, one for every 7.25 possessions.
Coach Calipari returns to the starting five to begin the second half. NKU opens the scoring with back to back 3 pointers on their first two possession of the second half. To trim 6 points off the UK halftime margin. However, the Cats respond with a 7 point run of its own. The Cats lead by 27, 59-32, at the under 16 media timeout, and NKU will be shooting free throws after the break. In the second segment of the second half, the Cats added another point to the lead, 28, 67-39, and Andrew Harrison will have a free throw to complete a three-point play after the under 12 media timeout.
In the third segment, the Cats extended their lead to a game high 32 points, 75-43 at the under 8 media timeout. Aaron Harrison will be shooting a pair of free throws after the timeout. For the second game in a row, Alex Poythress has come off the bench to post a double-double, with a career high 13 rebounds for the second consecutive game. With 6:19 to play, Coach Calipari pulls his starters for Hood, Polson, Hawkins, Lee, and Willis and the Cats up 81-47. At the under 4 media timeout, the score stands at 87-51, and NKU will have possession. The teams play out the final segment with NKU closing the margin to 30 points at the end of the game, 93-63.
UK scored its 93 points in a total of 67 possessions for the game, and Northern Kentucky scored its 63 points on a total of 69 possessions. Kentucky won the battle of the boards, with a rebounding edge 52-23, and the Cats won the battle of the offensive glass 16-9. Kentucky used its 16 second chance possessions to score 21 second chance points, and Northern Kentucky converted their 9 offensive rebounds into 13 second chance points. Northern Kentucky had an offensive efficiency of 0.725 ppp on its 69 first chance possessions and1.445 ppp for its 9 second chance possessions. UK had 1.075 ppp on its 67 first chance possessions and 1.312 ppp on its 16 second chance possessions. With respect to the offensive rebounding, UK grabbed a strong 53.3% of its misses as offensive rebounds while Northern Kentucky was able to convert 20.0% of its misses into bonus possessions with offensive rebounds.
UK hit poorly from the free throw line in this game, making 26-38 [68.4%]. Northern Kentucky made 12-15 [80.0%] for the game. Field goal shooting for UK was 30-55 overall [54.5%] and 7-22 from long range [31.8%]. For Northern Kentucky, their field goal shooting from inside the arc was a respectable 12-29 [41.1%] and from long range, Northern Kentucky hit 3-35 [25.7%].
The Cats committed 12 turnovers, one for every 5.6 possessions. The Cats forced 7 Northern Kentucky turnovers, one for every 9.9 possessions.
Next Game On Schedule: Tuesday night in the Champions Classic in Chicago when the Cats will meet #2 Michigan State in the earliest collision of the #1 and #2 teams in the history of college basketball.
Submitted by Richard Cheeks
Submitted by Richard Cheeks